I had Philippians 4:13 written on a little slip of paper that I kept inside my football locker when I was in high school. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” meaning that I could knock some guy on his rear end because Jesus was on my team. I guess I was assuming that there couldn’t possibly be any dedicated Christians on the other team who might just have written such a verse on their own locker.
Nope, that’s not what that verse means. It’s not about triumphalism. Not at all. It’s about contentment. If you read the context you’ll see that the thing specifically that Paul could do through Christ who strengthened him was to “learn the secret of being content in any and every situation” (v. 12).
Now I suppose you could argue that you could learn contentment not necessarily through Christ, but through your own will. You could choose to only have 2 shirts in your closet. To live on only 10% of your income. To eat only bread and bologne. And you could try your best to will yourself into a state of contentment by settling for less.
But according to the gospel, the fuel of contentment is not settling for less; it’s recognizing that regardless of how much we have or don’t have materially, we are rich in Christ. In another of his letters, this one to the Ephesians, Paul said it like this:
“3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:3-10).
He goes on to further enumerate these spiritual blessings until our heads are left ringing with the depth of our riches in Christ. We, like Scrooge McDuck, are swimming in a money bin full of adoption, lavished grace, understanding, and redemption.
The fuel of Christian contentment is not settling for less; it’s having our eyes opened to the fact that we already have everything in Christ.
Given what we already have, does it really matter if we have a little bigger television set?